4 ways to improve your home's indoor air quality
A healthy indoor environment free from VOCs, formaldehyde, mold and other pollutants not only makes your home more pleasant to be in, it can also help prevent asthma or other respiratory illnesses. Here are four ways to stay on top of indoor air quality (IAQ):
1. Test for potential issues.
If you're experiencing respiratory symptoms and are not sure what the source of the issue might be, take a look at the list of questions published by the American Lung Association. This might help you pinpoint the problem.
You probably already know that smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. But did you know that radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, is number two? It can be found anywhere, and like carbon monoxide, can't be seen or smelled. The U.S. EPA shares links to sources for radon test kits and information on its website.
With mold, if you suspect you may have problems, you can also test for its presence in your home without incurring much expense. If mold is already visible, skip to step two and take action to rid your home of this health hazard. Depending on the severity and type of the problem, such as whether it's just moisture in your HVAC system or you have major flood damage, the solutions may be different, so consult a professional or refer to the EPA's mold guide for homeowners.
2. Be green in your home improvement practices.
One of the best ways to ensure good IAQ is to be careful in how you take care of your home. Using green or even DIY cleaning supplies, minimizing use of sealants and purchasing furniture with low risk of off-gassing can help you keep the air you breathe healthy.
Choosing environmentally sound green flooring and countertop materials will help you manage air quality, as well.
3. Use adequate ventilation.
Keep windows open when using products that have strong fumes—and point floor fans toward the windows to push fumes outdoors even more. In fact, open your windows more often in general, and let the fresh air circulate in your home.
Make sure your ducts are cleaned as needed, to avoid buildup of mold, pollen and fungus. Lessen the need for full professional duct cleaning by doing routine maintenance like replacing air filters and ensuring that joints are sealed.
4. Bring the outdoors into your home.
Building a green wall, setting out plants or growing herbs in your home creates more oxygen, filters out pollutants and may even boost your mood. Making design choices that respond to our biophilia—the human inclination to seek connection with nature—can be as simple as adding some literal green to your living room with a plant or two.
- Choose a low-maintenance house plant.
- See how you can build a living wall.
- Listen to a USGBC podcast on biophilia.
Want to learn more? Read our in-depth article on improving IAQ, from simple to more complex strategies.
Learn about LEED credits related to IAQ.